Tesla will "begin to enable full self-driving features" in its Autopilot software as early as August of this year, CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday.
Musk was specifically addressing some of the safety concerns about Autopilot's lane merging capabilities, explaining on Twitter that those issues would be addressed in version 9 of the software, due out in August. As reported by Reuters, the tweet led to a rise of Tesla stock.
It's not exactly clear what Musk meant by "full self-driving features." And, as noted by Reuters, the Tesla website has documentation that states the features will be dependent on local regulatory approval.
SEE: System update policy (Tech Pro Research)
While all Teslas now come standard with the hardware needed to enable Autopilot, the full version of the software isn't standard. Some Autopilot safety features are standard, but Enhanced Autopilot will cost an additional $6,000, and full self-driving capabilities will cost another $4,000 on top of that, according to the Tesla website. That means that it will cost $10,000 for a Tesla owner to get full self-driving capabilities in their vehicle.
It's often said that every company is now a tech company. Tesla's move to offer additional functionality via a software update is a model that will likely make its way through the automotive industry, eventually affecting every major manufacturer. Whether it's for self-driving capabilities, or simply an enhanced infotainment system, software updates will be a critical part of the next generation of "luxury packages" in new cars.
However, it won't be limited to automotive. The prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors, along with the growth of smart homes and smart cities, mean that an increasing number of everyday devices are now internet-connected. As such, those devices will also be able to download software updates. But, that begs the question of how much those updates will cost and what they will enable.
Additionally, Musk's move to push self-driving technology forward illustrates how technology companies (or car companies run like technology companies) can disrupt an industry and force innovation forward. As Tesla continues its updates, it will be interesting to see how much the regulators let the company release to the public.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Full self-driving capabilities are coming to Tesla vehicles with the version 9 update in August 2018.
- Tesla's update model highlights how software updates will come to define many major industries as more everyday products become internet connected.
- Our autonomous future: How driverless cars will be the first robots we learn to trust (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Report suggests car system failures in deadly Tesla Model X crash (ZDNet)
- Tesla's Autopilot: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Musk's promise of Tesla's 'full self-driving' features leaves plenty of questions (CNET)
- Are self-driving shuttles the work perk of the future? (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.